Snohomish family separated by border agents while on vacation in Arizona

VIDEO: Snohomish family battling to be reunited

SNOHOMISH, Wash. — A Snohomish family is battling to be reunited after their parents and one adult son were taken into custody by Customs and Border Protection in Arizona.

Raquel Enriquez, her husband Irvin Enriquez, and his parents Roberto Enriquez and Candelaria Olvera were sightseeing for a week in Arizona when they were stopped by Customs and Border Protection agents on Thursday.

“We were about to get on a highway to just go straight to the park and we saw the Border Patrol car parked, and as soon as we passed him, the Border Patrol pulled up behind us and turned on its lights,” Raquel Enriquez said.

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She said after they showed the two agents their Washington State IDs, they said it wasn't enough evidence they were in the country legally. She said they waited in the car for an hour and a half while the agents ran a report.

Enriquez said they came back to the car and informed her that her husband and in-laws would be taken into custody, while she could stay with the rental car. She said she immediately called her sister-in-law, Andrea Enriquez Olvera.

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​Now they are working together with Arizona community organizers and Washington state organizers.

“We’ve gone some days here that we haven’t ate,” Enriquez said, “or haven’t slept. It’s been very hard.”

We reached out to Customs and Border Protection, who confirmed the three of them were "arrested by the United States Border Patrol near Sunizona, Arizona, subsequent to an immigration vehicle stop. All three individuals were found to be in the United States in violation of immigration law. All three adult individuals were citizens and nationals of Mexico that had overstayed their immigration permits. They are being processed for immigration removal proceedings."

His sister doesn't dispute their immigration status. She said they visited the United States about 16 years ago and that her parents were looking to escape the crime and drug cartels of Mexico.

“We came here on a visitors' visa and we did overstay our visa,” she said. “No criminal history. My parents -- just like Irvin -- are supportive members of our community. They're activists, they help feed the homeless.”

But, she said, her parents worked hard, starting as farm workers, then working in fast food, before her father, who was a nurse in Mexico, started a tire shop in Everett, Enriquez Tires.

“He's our pillar and so is my mom,” she said. “I don’t know what-- what will be of our family if they can't come back with us.”

Irvin Enriquez is studying biology at the University of Washington, with dreams of someday becoming a trauma surgeon. He’s also an active community organizer and volunteer, Raquel Enriquez said.

“He interns at Seattle Children’s Hospital -- and he's helping the Spanish-speaking community in research,” she said.

On Facebook, supporters are sharing their stories about the family's volunteerism and local business, urging people to write letters to members of Congress, and letters about their character and community contributions that they may need for an immigration judge in court.

They're also asking people to donate to their legal fund, if they can. As of this afternoon, more than $6,000 has been raised on GoFund Me.

“I have hope,” Andrea Enriquez Olvera said, “because we have a lot of support and help. And I am very fearful.”

“It's something that we would never wish upon anybody else to go through,” Raquel Enriquez said.

Enriquez Olvera said she has her green card and planned to sponsor he parents once she became a citizen, while Raquel Enriquez said Irvin was beginning the green card process, since they had just gotten married in 2018.

They do expect a deportation officer to interview all three at some point and make a decision about releasing the three on bond.